February 8, 2021 (Anchorage, Alaska) – Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy has authorized a Disaster Declaration for the Tuluksak water system fire that occurred on January 16, 2021. The Disaster Declaration activates the State of Alaska Public Assistance program which is designed to help communities, government organizations, and certain non-profits make repairs to utilities, public buildings, and other critical infrastructure damaged by the declared event. In addition, the Public Assistance Disaster Declaration will reimburse communities and agencies for eligible response costs associated with the disaster event.
The authorization of the Disaster Declaration follows weeks of work by a multiagency group including the State of Alaska, the Tuluksak Native Community, federal and local partners to ensure the village had no shortage of drinking water following the destruction of the water treatment plant and washeteria. The Disaster Declaration provides short term and immediate measures establishing temporary watering facilities and other processes to provide the community with potable water.
“Since the loss of the Tuluksak water system, my administration has worked with local partners, including the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation and many others, to ensure the people of Tuluksak have constant access to drinking water and that the ice road is maintained,” said Governor Mike Dunleavy. “Today, I approved the disaster declaration requested by the Tuluksak Native Community, giving us an additional, long-term tool as we work toward recovery.”
“The health and safety of Alaskans is a priority. We will continue to provide support to the people of Tuluksak,” said Major General Torrence Saxe, Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.
Currently, residents of Tuluksak have access to bottled water, which was donated to the community and is available for purchase in the community store. Air service is operational, and the ice road to Bethel and other communities provides access to potable water.
“I would like to thank all of the agencies and individuals who donated water to the community of Tuluksak,” said Governor Dunleavy. “It never ceases to amaze me the generosity that Alaskans show when their neighbors are in need. Often, these individuals are the unsung heroes of the disaster response and recovery effort.”
A multi-agency group continues to meet and develop short and long-term solutions to the community’s water issues. Short term solutions include providing a supply of filtered, but non-drinkable water, to support a temporary bathing and laundry facility; moving and setting up a mobile water treatment system from Bethel to Tuluksak to establish a temporary watering point; or to purchase a prefabricated treatment building and ship it to the community.